Replenishing at Night

Hi everyone!  Today’s blog post will include my tips and tricks for replenishing and refreshing for the next day after ballet.  It’s one of the most vital times of the day for ballet dancers, because it directly affects your performance tomorrow.  So, let’s talk a little bit about this and some strategies you can use to be at your best the next day.


What you eat

This is one of the most important aspects of your replenishment.  I talk about dinner a lot in my Meal Ideas blog post, and that’s because it provides nourishment and can prevent soreness, cramping, and tightness the next day.

I think that it’s important that your dinner contains the following factors:

  • At least 1 source of potassium (like a banana)
  • No fruit
  • 1 cup of vegetables and a meat (or tofu if you’re a vegetarian)

These factors help provide balance so that you can dance your best the next day.  The reason I have banished fruit from dinners is that it’s a naturally-sugary thing and it won’t help you relax.  It’s great for the morning, but not at night.

I also have a strong belief in the quality of your bed-time snacks.  You definitely need something light, but I would strongly avoid anything really heavy.  A lot of people hold grudges against bed-time snacks because they believe that it’s bad to eat right before bed (which it is, but there’s a way around it).  Give it at least 30 minutes of sitting-up time before you head into bed following your bedtime snack.

Some good qualities of a bedtime snack include:

  • Light, but qualitative
  • Nothing sour or spicy – neutral flavors
  • Low-energy food

My favorite bed-time snack is popocrn – it follows all of the qualities I listed above and it’s one of my favorite foods…muahaha.

Conditioning

The next factor that will contribute to your replenishing for the following day is how much conditioning you do and where you place the different types of conditioning.

Before we get deep into the reasoning, let’s look at some factors that should contribute to your conditioning regimen at nighttime:

  • No physical activity after the conditioning
  • Stretching should come last
  • No rolling out or massage after stretching or strengthening
  • No excessive strengthening if you are already tired

Let’s start with the first bullet.  It’s pretty simple – after you stretch, you aren’t going to want to go dance again because your muscles will tighten back up again and you will be sore the next morning.

The second bullet follows along the same lines – you don’t want to strengthen or roll out after stretching because both of those can cause soreness, which you just got rid of by stretching.

The third bullet is a bit more contreversial and situational-dependent.  If you had a really hard class and you know that your calves are in total knots, you definitely are going to want to save that intense massage session for the morning when you don’t have time to get sore again.  But, if you just want to tackle a little knot in your back or something light that won’t cause you to be sore in the morning, go ahead.

Finally, we have lsitening to your body.  Of course.  If you are really tired, you just ran a puffy ballet over and over again and you’re dying, maybe skip the ab exercises that night – it will hurt you more than it will help you.  But, if you had an easy-ish class and you think that doing strengthening will get your tired msucles on the spot and you will feel better the next morning, go ahead.  Again, it’s all about listening to your body.

Sleep

These tips apply a bit more to everybody – even non-dancers.  They are basically to help you sleep better and get more quality sleep.

Here are a few tips for better sleep for dancers:

  1. Don’t watch TV or use a screen right before going to bed.  I recommend reading a nice book or listening to some calming music.  Playing on your phone or laptop won’t do you any good.
  2. Do something relaxing or nice for your mind before you head to bed.  I enjoy drinking a warm cup of tea or taking a nice bath.  Yoga is one of my favorites as well – it also does a good job of relaxing your muscles, which we talked about in the conditioning section.
  3. Make sure to nurse any foot injuries beforehand.  While your sleeping is a great time for your feet to absorb any nutrients or cures that you put on them before bed, so put them on now.  I like to use Aloe extract or even castor oil on my blisters to help ease the pain in the morning.

Thanks for reading!  See you guys on Sunday with another chapter of my story.

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